In December 1485, Catherine of Aragon was born at Laredo Palace, in Alcalá de Henares near to Madrid. She was the youngest child of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. Her royal Spanish title was la Infanta Catalina de Aragón y Castilla.
The personal symbol of Catherine was a crowned pomegranate. She is sometimes referred to as the Pomegranate Queen.
When Catherine was just three years old, her parents decided that she would marry the English prince, Arthur Tudor. He was the first son of King Henry VII of England and heir to the English throne. It was considered that the marriage would create a strong bond between Spain and England.
The Spanish princess grew up knowing that her destiny was to travel to England where one day she would be Queen.
Below is a portrait of Catherine when she was eleven years old and a portrait of her future husband Arthur Tudor.
In 1501, Catherine and Arthur were married in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. They were given the titles Prince and Princess of Wales and they went to live in Ludlow Castle.
It is said that Catherine had very long hair that was a reddish blonde colour and that she had blue eyes.
Tragedy struck just five months after the wedding! In April 1502, Arthur fell ill with 'the sweating sickness' and died. He was only fifteen years old.
The newly-wed Catherine was suddenly a sixteen-year-old widow.
Years later, Catherine married Arthur's younger brother, Henry Tudor.
The wedding took place in 1509, when eighteen-year-old Henry had just become the new King of England: Henry VIII. Catherine was five years older than her second husband.
Below is a portrait of King Henry VIII painted at around the time of his marriage to Catherine.
Catherine gave birth to many children but they all died except for one daughter who was born in 1516. She was named Mary and many years later she would become Queen Mary I of England. This means that Mary Tudor was half Spanish!
Below is a portrait of Mary Tudor.
Henry VIII was desperate for a son to be born because he believed that there should be a male heir to the throne. He separated from Catherine in 1531 because it seemed unlikely that she would have any more children. In 1533, Henry married Anne Boleyn, one of Catherine's ladies-in-waiting.
Catherine refused to accept that her marriage to the king had been annulled. She still considered herself to be Henry's wife and the true Queen of England - even after he had married Anne Boleyn.
Catherine was sent away from Henry's court and her rooms were given to Anne Boleyn.
She was forbidden to be with her daughter, Mary. It is very sad that the mother and daughter never saw each other again.
Catherine was sent to live at a palace called The More in Hertfordshire and later she was sent to Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire. At Kimbolton Castle, she had just a few servants to attend her. It is said that she lived in just one room, leaving it only when she went to pray in the chapel. It is believed that the poor living conditions and her sadness damaged her health.
Catherine of Aragon died in Kimbolton Castle on 7 January 1536, at the age of fifty years.
She was laid to rest in Peterborough Cathedral. Many visitors to the cathedral leave a pomegranate on Catherine's tomb - as this was her personal symbol.
When Catherine died, she was still heart-broken over Henry's decision to leave her. In her final hours she wrote the following letter to her husband: -